Sunday, July 31, 2016

SLOOOOW Film Adventure

Another really slow film.
One of the more interesting aspects of using film is that we have the opportunity to experiment with emulsions that are not the every-day sort of film.  In the digital world, the ISOs keep getting insanely higher each year.  But, they never go LOWER.  Typically, ISO 100 is the lowest ISO available.  With film, there are emulsions with an ISO of 0.75.  Of course, most people would never dream of shooting with a low ISO film, and the standard low ISO in the film world is 25.  TechPan, that do-it-all film has an ISO of 25 in most applications.  Kodalith, designed to be a high-contrast graphic arts film has an ISO of 12.  Most of the available (mostly old-stock) low ISO films are designed for specific applications, not as general-purpose photographic films.  I still shoot a dwindling stock of Kodak Panatomic-X whose box speed is ISO 32, but I shoot it at 25 with great results.  Ilford's Pan-F has a box speed of ISO 50, but I shoot it at 32.   The now out-of-production Polypan-F has a stated speed of 50, but can be pushed higher.
an oldie low-ISO  in color, no less. 
To go back to my original thought -- why would you want to shoot a low ISO film?  For one, you can shoot wide-open on a sunny day for great shallow DOF results.   Stopping down, you can achieve a motion blur in the same situation.  So, let's get REALLY slow.  ISO 3.  
I had a project in mind, and that was to do a shoot at the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair, which happens every mid- July. Over the 4 days, there are up to a half million visitors.  What I wanted to do, was to try and get a ghost-like blur of people at the art fair. Of course, it's mid-summer, almost always bright and sunny. How do I do that?
1. Use a low ISO film.  I tried two. The FPP store had a Svema Micrat-Ortho which is a POSITIVE ISO 1 film (or maybe 0.75), as well as a Svema MZ-3, which is a higher-contrast repro film of ISO 3.  2. Use a Neutral Density Filter to allow even less light -- I used a 3-stop ND filter.
3. Use a camera that allows me to get as close to a low ISO setting as possible. My F100 ISO dial goes to ISO 6, and I can compensate +1, +2,  (and more)  full stops to achieve an ISO of 3 or less.
4. Shoot at f/22 if possible.  I used a Nikkor 24-120 AF zoom.
5. Of course, this means a tripod is absolutely necessary.  Remote release is also handy, as well.  


Roll 1 -- The Svema Micrat Ortho was developed in D76 1:1 for 7 minutes.  Exposures ranged from 10-25 seconds.

Roll 2-- Svema MZ-3. Developed in Kodak Technidol LC for 15 minutes.  Exposures ranged from 3-10 seconds.

Both of these films are unusual films that are not being used as the films were intended.  If I were to shoot this way again, I would probably just use some of my Kodak Tech Pan with a 3 stop ND filter + a polarizer or red filter, and a cloudy day would surely help.  Maybe this fall, I will do it some more down town.  

If you want to see some fantastic work in this vein, look up Alexey Titarenko's photographs from Russia.  Really good work.

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